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Brady,  Gyrus  Townsend 

Chief  Joseph's  own  story 

Digitized  by  the  Internet  Arciiive 

in  2010  with  funding  from 

University  of  Toronto 



O^vn  Story 

From  the 

April,  1879 

Chief  Joseph's 
Own  Story 

Reprinted  by  permission  from  the  North  Amer- 
ican Rcviczi'  of  April,  1879,  and  "Northivestern 
Fights  and  Fighters."  by  Cyrus  Towxsexd 

Foreword  by 

Photo  by   courtesy  of   Western    Magazine 
Chief  Joseph 

Chief  Joseph's  Last  Stand 

Young  Joseph,  his  people,  and  his  marvelous  retreat  of  nearly 
two  thousand  miles 

By  Donald  MacRae 

About  fifteen  miles  to  the  south  of  the  Great  Northern  Rail- 
way tracks  at  Chinook,  Montana,  a  historic  battlefield  lies  almost 
forgotten  among  the  ravines  and  gullies  that  line  the  high  blufifs 
of  Snake  Creek  near  its  junction  with  the  Milk  River  in  the 
Bear  Paw  ^Mountains.  Its  trenches  and  earth  works  have  grad- 
ually fallen  into  decay  and  the  wild  flowers  and  tall  prairie  grass 
have  nearly  obliterated  the  graves  of  its  heroic  dead. 

Few  people  today,  save  possibly  those  living  close  by  or  those 
interested  in  Northwest  history,  can  tell  you  the  name  of  this 
place  or  of  those  w^ho  so  gallantly  fought  here ;  yet  less  than 
fifty  years  ago  on  this  very  spot  the  white  man  and  the  red  were 
fighting  one  of  their  last  great  battles. 

Chief  Joseph  and  his  band  of  Nez  Perce  warriors  had  success- 
fully defeated  General  Howard's  men  on  the  Lolo  trail,  fought  a 
drawn  battle  with  General  Gibbon  at  Big  Hole  and  were  rapidly 
retreating  by  a  circuitous  trail  to  join  Sitting  Bull  in  Canada,  but 
the  telegraph  of  the  white  man  was  working  against  him.  Un- 
known to  this  Indian  Chieftain,  Colonel  (later  General)  Miles  was 
rapidly  marching  to  the  Northwest  to  intercept  him  before  he 
could  reach  the  border.  Had  Chief  Joseph  known  of  this  he  could 
have  easily  escaped  with  all  his  people  as  he  crossed  the  Missouri 
a  full  day  ahead  of  Miles,  but  the  Three  Daughters  of  the  Night 
decreed  otherwise  and  the  opposing  forces  met  at  this  spot  on  the 
30th  of  September,  1877. 

Three  days  later  General  Howard  arrived  upf)n  the  scene  and, 
on  the  4th  of  October,  Joseph  surrendered  with  eighty-seven  war- 
riors, of  whom  forty  were  wounded,  one  hundred  and  eighty-four 
squaws  and  one  hundred  and  forty-seven  children.  This  was  the 
pathetic  message  of  surrender  he  sent  to  General  Howard : 

Tell  General  Howard  that  I  know  his  heart.  What  he 
told  me  before — I  have  it  in  my  heart.  I  am  tired  of  fight- 
ing. Our  chiefs  are  killed.  Looking  Glass  is  dead. 
Too-hiil-hiil-sote  is  dead.  The  old  men  are  all  dead.  It  is 
the  young  men  now,  who  say  "yes"  or  "no"  (that  is,  vote 
in  council).  He  who  led  the  young  men  (Joseph's  brother 
Ollicut)  is  dead.  It  is  cold,  and  we  have  no  blankets.  The 
little  children  are  freezing  to  death.  My  people — some  of 
them — have  run  away  to  the  hills,  and  have  no  blankets, 
no  food.  No  one  knows  where  they  are — perhaps  freezing 
to  death.  I  want  to  have  time  to  look  for  my  children,  and 
to  see  how  many  of  them  I  can  find ;  maybe  I  shall  find 
them  among  the  dead.  Hear  me,  my  chiefs,  my  heart  is 
sick  and  sad.  From  where  the  sun  now  stands,  I  will  fight 
no  more  with  the  whiteman.^ 

This  remarkable  Indian  had  accompli.shed  a  feat  that  will  be 
long  remembered  as  a  military  exploit  of  the  first  magnitude.  His 
small  force,  which  at  no  time  numbered  more  than  three  hundred 
warriors,  had  retreated  for  nearly  two  thousand  miles  through  an 
enemy  country,  carrying  with  them  their  squaws  and  children. 
They  had  met  United  States  troops  eleven  different  times  and  had 
fought  five  pitched  battles  with  them,  of  which  they  had  won 
three,  drew  one  and  lost  one,  a  feat  that  is  more  remarkable  when 
you  learn  that  the  total  force  opposing  them  was  nearly  two 
thousand  men.  But  greatest  of  all  is  the  fact  that  this  campaign 
was  conducted  without  the  destruction  of  property  and  the  mur- 
dering of  settlers  that  usually  was  a  part  of  Indian  warfare. 

'^American  Fights  and  Fighters,   Thr  Xcz  Perec  W'ar,  by  Cyrus  Toziiisciid  Brady. 

Chief  Joseph 

Young  Joseph — he  bore  this  name  for  a  long  time  as  his  father 
was  also  called  Joseph — was  the  last  of  the  great  warrior  chief- 
tains. He  was  a  wonderful  specimen  of  the  Indian,  standing  six 
feet  tall,  straight  as  an  arrow  and  wonderfully  handsome,  his 
features  being  as  clear-cut  as  chiseled  marble.  The  New  York 
Sun  of  September  24,  1904 — in  commenting  on  his  death — says 
he  was  a  great  orator  and  though  he  never  spoke  a  word  of  Eng- 
lish some  of  his  sayings,  translated,  have  become  famous.  He 
is  reported  to  have  said — "Look  twice  at  a  two-faced  man ;" 
"Cursed  be  the  hand  that  scalps  the  reputation  of  the  dead ;"  "The 

eye  tells  what  the  tongue  would  hide ;"  "Big  name  often  stands 
on  small  legs;"  "Finest  fur  may  cover  toughest  meat."- 

-In  early  years  when  the  young  Joseph  appeared  before  the  govern- 
ment commission  to  plead  for  his  people  and  his  lands,  the  commissioners 
were  amazed  at  his  wonderful  oratorical  powers.  This  seemed  to  be  a 
natural  gift  among  the  Indians.  At  the  Portage  des  Sioux  (the  point  of 
land  lying  between  the  confluence  of  the  Missouri  with  the  Mississippi) 
where,  in  1815,  a  treaty  was  signed  which  pacified  the  western  Indians, 
Standing  Elk,  the  great  chief  of  the  Maha  nation,  delivered  his  historic 
address  over  the  grave  of  the  Teton  chief,  Black  Buffalo.  "Do  not  grieve," 
said  the  red  orator,  upon  that  occasion,  "misfortune  will  happen  to  the 
wisest  and  best  men.  Death  will  come,  and  always  comes  out  of  season ; 
it  is  the  command  of  the  Great  Spirit,  and  all  nations  and  people  must 
obey.  What  is  past,  and  can  not  be  prevented,  should  not  be  grieved  for. 
Be  not  discouraged  or  displeased  then,  that  in  visiting  your  father  here 
you  have  lost  your  chief.  A  misfortune  of  this  kind  may  never  again 
befall  you ;  but  this  would  have  attended  you  perhaps  in  your  own  vil- 
lage. Five  times  have  I  visited  this  land,  and  never  returned  with  sorrow 
or  pain.  Misfortunes  do  not  flourish  particularly  in  our  path,  they  grow 
everywhere.  (Addressing  himself  to  Governor  Edwards  and  Colonel 
Miller)  :  What  a  misfortune  for  me  that  I  could  not  have  died  this 
day,  instead  of  the  chief  that  lies  before  us.  The  trifling  loss  my  nation 
would  have  sustained  in ,  my  death  would  have  been  doubly  paid  for  by 
the  honors  of  my  burial — they  would  have  wiped  off  everything  like  regret- 
Instead  of  being  covered  with  a  cloud  of  sorrow,  my  warriors  would  have 
let  the  sunshine  of  joy  in  their  hearts.  To  me  it  would  have  been  a 
most  glorious  occurrence.  Hereafter,  when  I  die  at  home,  instead  of  a 
noble  grave  and  a  grand  procession,  the  rolling  music  and  the  thunder- 
ing cannon,  with  a  flag  waving  at  my  head,  I  shall  be  wrapped  in  a  robe 
(an  old  robe,  perhaps)  and  hoisted  on  a  slender  scaffold  to  the  whistling 
winds,  soon  to  be  blown  down  to  the  earth  ;  my  flesh  to  be  devoured  by 
wolves,  and  my  bones  rattled  on  the  plain  by  the  wild  beasts.  (Address- 
ing himself  to  Col.  Miller)  :  Chief  of  the  soldiers,  your  labors  have  not 
been  in  vain  ;  your  attentions  shall  not  be  forgotten,  my  nation  shall  know 
the  respect  that  is  paid  over  the  dead.  When  I  return  I  will  echo  the 
sound  of  your  guns." 

Of  his  early  life  not  much  is  known  save  that  he  was  born  in 
eastern  Oregon  about  1840.  He  was  the  eldest  of  Old  Joseph's 
two  sons  and  the  hereditary  chief  of  the  Lower  Nez  Perce  Indians. 
His  early  childhood  was  most  likely  spent  learning  the  usual 
war  and  hunting  arts  common  to  his  people  though  he  did  spend 
some  time  at  Rev.  Spaulding's  school — Rev.  Spaulding  was  a  mis- 
sionary who  spent  many  years  among  the  Nez  Perce  Indians. 

From  his  father  he  learned  to  be  careful  when  dealing  with 
the  whites  and  to  never  sell  or  sign  away  the  lands  of  his  people. 
This  he  never  did  and  it  was  cause  of  his  taking  charge  of  the 
"non-treaty"    Indians   and   consummating   his   marvelous    retreat 

through  the  fastness  of  the  Rockies  and  over  the  Montana  plains 
nearly  to  the  Canadian  border ;  although  he  took  no  part  in  the 
massacres  that  were  the  immediate  cause  of  the  outbreak. 

This  retreat  was  a  masterpiece  of  military  strategy,  his  men 
often  holding  superior  forces  at  bay  while  a  small  detachment  of 
them  slipped  around  one  side  and  cut  off  the  enemies'  supplies. 
His  warriors — although  the  Xez  Perces  had  been  at  peace  for 
years — were  perfectly  trained  in  all  the  arts  of  war ;  in  fact,  at 
one  time  he  formed  forty  of  his  men  in  columns  of  four  and  in 
the  dusk  of  early  night  pulled  a  surprise  attack  on  Howard's 
troops — the  sentry  thinking,  by  their  orderly  formation,  that  they 
were  part  of  General  Howard's  cavalry.  General  O.  O.  Howard 
in  his  book  about  the  Nez  Perce  and  Joseph's  retreat  says  of 
this  particular  instance  that,  "At  the  Camas  Meadows,  not  far 
from  Henry  Lake,  Joseph's  night  march,  his  surprise  of  my  camp 
and  capture  of  over  a  hundred  animals,  and,  after  a  slight  battle, 
making  a  successful  escape,  showed  an  ability  to  plan  and  execute 
equal  to  that  of  many  a  partisan  leader  whose  deeds  have  entered 
into  classic  story." 

Even  in  his  last  battle  he  held  out  for  four  days  against  a  force 
that  out-numbered  his  two  to  one  and  his  quiet  dignity  and  for- 
bearance at  the  time  of  his  surrender  won  him  the  respect  and 
friendship  of  General  Miles. 

"Thus,"  says  General  Sherman,  speaking  of  Joseph's  surrender 
to  General  Miles,  "has  terminated  one  of  the  most  extraordinary 
Indian  wars  of  which  there  is  any  record.  The  Indians  through- 
out displayed  a  courage  and  skill  that  elicited  universal  praise ; 
they  abstained  from  scalping,  let  captive  women  go  free,  did  not 
commit  indiscriminate  murder  of  peaceful  families,  which  is  usual. 
and  fought  with  almost  scientific  skill,  using  advance  and  rear 
guards,  skirmish  lines  and  field  fortifications."*^ 

After  his  surrender,  he  and  his  people  were  sent  to  Fort  Leav- 
enworth and  later  to  Baxter  Springs.  Kansas.  In  these  places 
many  of  the  Indians  died  but  it  wasn't  until  1885  that  the  sorry 
remnant  of  this  audacious  band  was  sent  to  spend  the  remainder 
of  their  lives  on  the  Colville  reservation,  in  northern  Washington ; 
a  country  similar  to  their  beloved  Valley  of  the  Winding  Waters 
and  a  place  where  they  could  live  in  peace  in  a  climate  that  they 
were  accustomed  to. 

For  twelve  years  Chief  Joseph  Hvecl  quietly  on  this  reservation 
but  in  1897  becoming  alarmed  by  the  encroachments  of  the  whites 
in  their  reservation  he  again  took  up  the  defense  of  his  people, 
this  time  by  going  to  Washington  and  pleading  with  the  President. 
Again  it  was  General  Miles — the  only  white  man  that  he  believed 
and  trusted — who  promised  him  that  his  people  would  be  un- 
molested in  the  lands  they  now  occupied. 

Returning  to  the  reservation  he  again  settled  down  to  enjoy 
the  peace  and  quiet  of  old  age,  making  only  one  more  trip,  this 
time  a  friendly  visit  to  the  President  and  his  old  friend  General 
Miles — for  a  part  of  the  time  during  this  trip  he  took  part  in 
Cummin's  Indian  Congress  and  Life  on  the  Plains  during  that 
show's  exhibition  at  the  famous  Madison  Square  Garden — and  a 
year  after  this  trip  he  dropped  dead  in  front  of  his  tepee  on 
Sept.  22,  1904. 

In  speaking  of  his  death,  C.  T.  Brady,  in  his  book  about  the 
Nez  Perce  War,  says :  "The  other  day  a  gray-headed  old  chief, 
nodding  by  the  fire,  dreaming  perhaps  of  days  of  daring  and  deeds 
of  valor,  by  which,  savage  though  he  was,  he  had  written  his 
name  on  the  pages  of  history,  slipped  quietly  to  the  ground  and 
fell  into  his  eternal  sleep.  Peaceful  ending  for  the  Indian  Xeno- 
phon,  the  Red  Napoleon  of  the  West."* 

^Massacres  of  the  Mountains,  page  66o,  by  J.  P.  Dunn,  Jr.     Harper  &  Bros.,   i886. 
*Page  40,  Northwestern  Fights  and  Fighters,   Cyrus   Townsend  Brady.     Doubleday. 
Page  &  Co. 

Chief  Joseph's  Own  Story 

With  an  Introduction  by  the  Rt.  Rev.  IV.  H.  Hare,  D.  D., 
Bishop  of  South  Dakota* 

I  wish  that  I  had  words  at  command  in  which  to  express  ade- 
quately the  interest  with  which  I  have  read  the  extraordinary 
narrative  which  follows,  and  which  I  have  the  privilege  of  intro- 
ducing to  the  readers  of  this  Review.     I  feel,  however,  that  this 

*This  story  first  appeared  in  The  Xorth  Aincriccnt  Rcviexc  for  April,  1870,  and  later 
in  the  book,  North'tvestern  Fights  and  Fighters,  written  by  Cyrus  Townsend  Brady. 
It  is  through  the  gracious  permission  of  Messrs.  Harper  and  Bros^  the  present  publish- 
ers of  The  North  American  Review,  and  Doubleday,  Page  and  Company,  the  publish- 
ers of  Mr.   Brady's   book,   that   this   story   has   been   reproduced   here. 

apologia  is  so  boldly  marked  by  the  charming  naivete  and  tender 
pathos  which  characterizes  the  red  man,  that  it  needs  no  introduc- 
tion, much  less  any  authentication ;  while  in  its  smothered  fire,  in 
its  deep  sense  of  eternal  righteousness  and  of  present  evil,  and  in 
its  hopeful  longings  for  the  coming  of  a  better  time,  this  Indian 
chief's  appeal  reminds  us  of  one  of  the  old  Hebrew  prophets  of 
the  days  of  the  Captivity. 

I  have  no  special  knowledge  of  the  history  of  the  Nez  Pcrces, 
the  Indians  whose  tale  of  sorrow  Chief  Joseph  so  pathetically  tells 
— my  Indian  missions  lying  in  a  part  at  the  West  quite  distant 
from  their  homes — and  am  not  competent  to  judge  their  case 
upon  its  merits.  The  chief's  narrative  is,  of  course,  ex  parte,  and 
many  of  his  statements  would  no  doubt  be  ardently  disputed. 
General  Howard,  for  instance,  can  hardly  receive  justice  at  his 
hands,  so  well  known  is  he  for  his  friendship  to  the  Indian  and  for 
his  distinguished  success  in  pacifying  some  of  the  most  desperate. 

It  should  be  remembered,  too,  in  justice  to  the  army  that  it 
is  rarely  called  upon  to  interfere  in  Indian  aflfairs  until  the  rela- 
tions between  the  Indians  and  the  whites  have  reached  a  desiderate 
condition,  and  when  the  situation  of  affairs  has  become  so  involved 
and  feeling  on  both  sides  ruias  so  high  that  perhaps  only  more 
than  human  forbearance  would  attempt  to  solve  the  difficulty  by 
disentangling  the  knot  and  not  by  cutting  it. 

Nevertheless,  the  chief's  narrative  is  marked  by  so  much  can- 
dor, and  he  is  so  careful  to  qualify  his  statements,  when  qualifica- 
tion seems  necessary,  that  every  reader  will  give  him  credit  for 
speaking  his  honest,  even  should  they  be  thought  by  some  to  be 
mistaken,  convictions.  The  chief,  in  his  treatment  of  his  defense, 
reminds  one  of  those  lawyers  of  whom  we  have  heard  that  their 
splendid  success  was  gained,  not  by  disputation,  but  simply  bv 
their  lucid  and  straightforward  statement  of  their  case.  That  he 
is  something  of  a  strategist  as  well  as  an  advocate  appears  from 
this  description  of  an  event  which  occurred  shortly  after  the 
breaking  out  of  hostilities :  "We  crossed  over  Salmon  River, 
hoping  General  Howard  would  follow.  We  were  not  disappoint- 
ed. He  did  follow  us.  and  we  got  between  him  and  his  supplies, 
and  cut  him  off  for  three  days."  Occasionally  the  reader  comes 
upon  touches  of  those  sentiments  and  feelings  which  at  once  estab- 
lish a  sense  of  kinship  between  all  \vhi>  possess  tlu-ni.     Witness 

his  description  of  his  desperate  attempt  to  rejoin  his  wife  and  chil- 
dren when  a  sudden  dash  of  General  Miles'  soldiers  had  cut  the 
Indian  camp  in  two.  ...  "I  thought  of  my  wife  and  children, 
who  were  now  surrounded  by  soldiers,  and  I  resolved  to  go  to 
them.  With  a  prayer  in  my  mouth  to  the  Great  Spirit  Chief  who 
rules  above,  I  dashed  unarmed  through  the  line  of  soldiers.  .  .  . 
My  clothes  were  cut  to  pieces,  my  horse  was  wounded,  but  I 
was  not  hurt."  And  again,  when  he  speaks  of  his  father's  death : 
'"I  saw  he  was  dying.  I  took  his  hand  in  mine.  He  said:  'My 
son,  my  body  is  returning  to  my  mother  earth,  and  my  spirit  is 
going  very  soon  to  see  the  Great  Spirit  Chief.  ...  A  few 
more  years  and  the  white  men  will  be  all  around  you.  They  have 
their  eyes  on  this  land.  My  son,  never  forget  my  dying  words. 
This  country  holds  your  father's  body^ — never  sell  the  bones  of 
your  father  and  mother.'  I  pressed  my  father's  hand,  and  told  him 
I  would  protect  his  grave  with  my  life.  My  father  smiled,  and 
passed  away  to  the  spirit  land.  I  buried  him  in  that  beautiful 
valley  of  Winding  Waters.  I  love  that  land  more  than  all  the  rest 
of  the  world.  A  man  who  would  not  love  his  father's  grave  is 
worse  than  a  wild  animal." 

His  appeals  to  the  natural  rights  of  man  are  surprisingly  fine, 
and,  however  some  may  despise  them  as  the  utterance  of  an  In- 
dian, they  are  just  those  which,  in  our  Declaration  of  Independ- 
ence, have  been  most  admired.  "We  are  all  sprung  from  a 
woman,"  he  says,  "although  we  are  unlike  in  many  things.  You 
are  as  you  were  made,  and,  as  you  are  made,  you  can  remain. 
We  are  just  as  we  were  made  by  the  Great  Spirit,  and  you  cannot 
change  us;  then,  why  should  children  of  one  mother  quarrel? 
Why  should  one  try  to  cheat  another  ?  I  do  not  believe  that  the 
Great  Spirit  Chief  gave  one  kind  of  men  the  right  to  tell  another 
kind  of  men  what  they  must  do." 

But  I  will  not  detain  the  readers  of  the  Review  from  the 
pleasure  of  perusing  for  themselves  Chief  Joseph's  statement 
longer  than  is  necessary  to  express  the  hope  that  those  who  have 
time  for  no  more  will  at  least  read  its  closing  paragraph,  and  to 
remark  that  the  narrative  brings  clearly  out  these  facts  which 
ought  to  be  regarded  as  well-recognized  principles  in  dealing  with 
the  red  man : 

1.  The  folly  of  any  mode  of  treatment  of  the  Indian  which 
is  not  based  upon  a  cordial  and  operative  acknowledgment  of 
his  rights  as  our  fellow-man. 

2.  The  danger  of  riding  roughshod  over  a  people  who  are 
capable  of  high  enthusiasm,  who  know  and  value  their  national 
rights,  and  are  brave  enough  to  defend  them. 

3.  The  liability  to  want  of  harmony  between  different  depart- 
ments and  different  officials  of  our  complex  Government,  from 
which  it  results  that,  while  many  promises  are  made  to  the  Indians, 
few  of  them  are  kept.  It  is  a  home-thrust  when  Chief  Joseph 
says :  "The  white  people  have  too  many  chiefs.  They  do  not 
understand  each  other.  ...  I  cannot  understand  how  the 
Government  sends  a  man  out  to  fight  us,  as  it  did  General  Miles, 
and  then  breaks  his  word.  Such  a  Government  has  something 
wrong  about  it." 

4.  The  unwisdom,  in  most  cases,  in  dealing  with  Indians, 
of  what  may  be  termed  military  short-cuts,  instead  of  patient 
discussion,  explanations,  persuasion,  and  reasonable  concessions. 

5.  The  absence  in  an  Indian  tribe  of  any  truly  representa- 
tive body  competent  to  make  a  treaty  which  shall  be  binding  upon 
all  the  bands.  The  failure  to  recognize  this  fact  has  been  the 
source  of  endless  difficulties.  Chief  Joseph,  in  this  case,  did  not 
consider  a  treaty  binding  which  his  band  had  not  agreed  to,  no 
matter  how  many  other  bands  had  signed  it ;  and  so  it  has  been 
in  many  other  cases. 

6.  Indian  chiefs,  however  able  and  influential,  are  really  with- 
out power,  and  for  this  reason,  as  well  as  others,  the  Indians, 
when  by  the  march  of  events  they  are  brought  into  intimate  rela- 
tions with  the  whites,  should  at  the  earliest  practicable  moment  be 
given  the  supix)rt  and  protection  of  our  Government  and  of  our 
law ;  not  local  law,  however,  which  is  apt  to  be  the  result  of  spe- 
cial legislation  adopted  solely  in  the  interest  of  the  stronger  race. 

William  H.  Hare. 

Chief  Joseph's  Story 

Told  by  him  on  Jiis  trip  to  Washington,  D.  C,  in  1897* 

My  friends,  I  have  been  asked  to  show  you  my  heart.  I  am 
glad  to  have  a  chance  to  do  so.  I  want  the  white  people  to  under- 
stand my  people.  Some  of  you  think  an  Indian  is  like  a  wild  ani- 
mal. This  is  a  great  mistake.  I  will  tell  you  all  about  our  people, 
and  then  you  can  judge  whether  an  Indian  is  a  man  or  not.  I 
believe  much  trouble  and  blood  would  be  saved  if  we  opened  our 
hearts  more.  I  will  tell  you  in  my  way  how  the  Indian  sees 
things.  The  white  man  has  more  words  to  tell  you  how  they  look 
to  him,  but  it  does  not  require  many  words  to  speak  the  truth. 
What  I  have  to  say  will  come  from  my  heart,  and  I  will  speak 
with  a  straight  tongue.  Ah-cum-kin-i-ma-me-hut  (the  Great  Spir- 
it) is  looking  at  me,  and  will  hear  me. 

My  name  is  In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat  (Thunder-traveling-over- 
the-mountains).  I  am  chief  of  the  Wal-lam-wat-kin  band  of 
Chute-pa-lu,  or  Nez  Perces  (nose-pierced  Indians).  I  was  born 
in  eastern  Oregon,  thirty-eight  winters  ago.  My  father  was  chief 
before  me.  When  a  young  man  he  was  called  Joseph  by  Mr. 
Spaulding,  a  missionary.  He  died  a  few  years  ago.  There  was 
no  stain  on  his  hands  of  the  blood  of  a  white  man.  He  left  a 
good  name  on  the  earth.     He  advised  me  well  for  my  people. 

Our  fathers  gave  us  many  laws,  which  they  had  learned  from 
their  fathers.  These  laws  were  good.  They  told  us  to  treat  all 
men  as  they  treated  us ;  that  we  should  never  be  the  first  to  break 
a  bargain ;  that  it  was  a  disgrace  to  tell  a  lie ;  that  we  should 
speak  only  the  truth ;  that  it  was  a  shame  for  one  man  to  take 
from  another  his  wife,  or  his  property,  without  paying  for  it. 
We  were  taught  to  l^elieve  that  the  Great  Spirit  sees  and  hears 
everything,  and  that  He  never  forgets;  that  hereafter  He  will 
give  every  man  a  spirit-home  according  to  his  deserts;  if  he  has 
been  a  good  man,  he  will  have  a  good  home;  if  he  has  been  a 
bad  man,  he  will  have  a  bad  home.  This  I  believe,  and  all  my 
people  believe  the  same. 

We  did  not  know  there  were  other  people  besides  the  Indians 
until  about  one  hundred  winters  ago,  when  some  men  with  white 
faces  came  to  our  country.    They  brought  many  things  with  them 

*Cliief  Joseph's  story  is  presented  here  not  as  a  matter  of  historic  record  or  as 
evidence  in  the  controversv  over  the  facts  in  connection  with  the  treaty  of  185J,  but 
to  give  an  impression  of  the  character  of  the  man.  Space  uill  not  permit  including 
(.cneral  Howard's  reply  which  appears  in  Cyrus  Tozcnsend  Brady's  book.  "North- 
western Fights  and  Fighters." 


to  trade  for  furs  and  skins.  They  brought  tobacco,  which  was 
new  to  us.  They  Ijrought  guns  with  flint-stones  on  them,  which 
frightened  our  women  and  children.  Our  people  could  not  talk 
with  these  white- faced  men,  l)ut  they  used  signs  which  all  people 
understood.  These  men  were  Frenchmen,  and  they  called  our 
people  "Nez  Perces,"  because  they  wore  rings  in  their  noses  for 
ornaments.  Although  very  few  of  our  people  wear  them  now,  we 
are  still  called  by  the  same  name.  These  French  trappers  said  a 
great  many  things  to  our  fathers,  which  have  been  planted  in  our 
hearts.  Some  were  good  for  us,  but  some  were  bad.  Our  people 
were  divided  in  opinion  about  these  men.  Some  thought  they 
taught  more  bad  than  good.  An  Indian  respects  a  brave  man, 
but  he  despises  a  coward.  He  loves  a  straight  tongue,  but  he 
hates  a  forked  tongue.  The  French  trappers  told  us  some  truths 
and  some  lies. 

The  first  white  men  of  your  people  who  came  to  our  country 
were  named  Lewis  and  Clarke.  They  also  brought  many  things 
that  our  people  had  never  seen.  They  talked  straight,  and  our 
people  gave  thein  a  great  feast,  as  a  proof  that  their  hearts  were 
friendly.  These  men  were  very  kind.  They  made  presents  to 
our  chiefs  and  our  people  made  presents  to  them.  .  We  had  a  great 
many  horses  of  which  we  gave  them  what  they  needed,  and  they 
gave  us  guns  and  tobacco  in  return.  All  the  Nez  Perces  made 
friends  with  Lewis  and  Clarke,  and  agreed  to  let  them -pass  through 
their  country,  and  never  to  make  war  on  white  men.  This  prom- 
ise the  Nez  Perces  have  never  broken.  No  white  man  can  accuse 
them  of  bad  faith,  and  speak  with  a  straight  tongue.  It  has  al- 
ways been  the  pride  of  the  Nez  Perces  that  they  were  the  friends 
of  the  white  men.  When  my  father  was  a  young  man  there  came 
to  our  country  a  white  man  (Rev.  Mr.  Spaulding)  who  talked 
spirit  law.  He  won  the  affections  of  our  people  because  he  spoke 
good  things  to  them.  At  first  he  did  not  say  anything  about  white 
men  wanting  to  settle  on  our  lands.  Nothing  was  said  about  that 
until  about  twenty  winters  ago  when  a  number  of  white  people 
came  into  our  country  and  built  houses  and  made  farms.  At  first 
our  people  made  no  com])laiiit.  They  thought  there  was  room 
enough  for  all  to  live  in  peace,  and  they  were  learning  many  things 
from  the  white  men  that  seemed  to  be  good.  But  we  soon  found 
that  the  white  men  were  growing  rich  very  fast,  and  were  greedy 


to  possess  everything"  the  Indian  had.  My  father  was  the  first  to 
see  through  the  schemes  of  the  white  men,  and  he  warned  his  tribe 
to  be  careful  about  trading  with  them.  He  had  a  suspicion  of 
men  who  seemed  so  anxious  to  make  money.  I  was  a  boy  then, 
but  I  remember  well  my  father's  caution.  He  had  sharper  eyes 
than  the  rest  of  our  people. 

Next  there  came  a  white  officer  (Governor  Stevens)  who 
invited  all  the  Nez  Perces  to  a  treaty  council.  After  the  council 
was  opened  he  made  known  his  heart.  He  said  there  were  a  great 
many  white  people  in  the  country,  and  many  more  would  come; 
that  he  wanted  the  land  marked  out  so  that  the  Indians  and  white 
men  could  be  separated.  If  they  were  to  live  in  peace  it  was 
necessary,  he  said,  that  the  Indians  should  have  a  country  set 
apart  for  them,  and  in  that  country  they  must  stay.  jMy  father, 
who  represented  his  band,  refused  to  have  anything  to  do  with 
the  council,  because  he  wished  to  be  a  free  man.  He  claimed  that 
no  man  owned  any  part  of  the  earth,  and  a  man  could  not  sell 
what  was  not  his  own. 

Mr.  Spaulding  took  hold  of  my  father's  arm  and  said  :  "Come 
and  sign  the  treaty."  '  My  father  pushed  him  away  and  said : 
"Why  do  you  ask  me  to  sign  away  my  covmtry?  It  is  your  busi- 
ness to  talk  to  us  about  spirit  matters,  and  not  to  talk  to  us  about 
parting  with  our  land."  Governor  Stevens  urged  my  father  to 
sign  his  treaty,  but  he  refused.  "I  will  not  sign  your  paper,"  he 
said,  "you  go  where  you  please,  so  do  I ;  you  are  not  a  child,  I 
am  no  child ;  I  can  think  for  myself.  No  man  can  think  for  me. 
I  have  no  other  home  than  this.  I  will  not  give  it  up  to  any  man. 
My  people  would  have  no  home.  Take  away  your  paper.  I  will 
not  touch  it  with  my  hand." 

My  father  left  the  council.  Some  of  the  chiefs  of  the  other 
bands  of  the  Nez  Perces  signed  the  treaty,  and  then  Governor 
Stevens  gave  them  presents  of  blankets.  ^ly  father  cautioned 
his  people  to  take  no  presents,  for  "after  awhile,"  he  said,  "they 
will  claim  that  you  accepted  pay  for  your  country."  Since  that 
time  four  bands  of  Nez  Perces  have  received  annuities  from  the 
United  States.  My  father  was  invited  to  many  councils,  and 
they  tried  hard  to  make  him  sign  the  treaty,  but  he  was  firm  as 
the  rock,  and  would  not  sign  away  his  home.  His  refusal  caused 
a  difference  among  the  Nez  Perces. 

Eight  years  later  (1863)  was  the  next  treaty  council.  A  chief 
called  Lawyer,  because  he  was  a  great  talker,  took  the  lead  in 
this  council,  and  sold  nearly  all  of  the  Xez  Perces  country.  My 
father  was  not  there.  He  said  to  me :  "When  you  go  into  council 
with  the  white  man,  always  remember  your  country.  Do  not  give 
it  away.  The  white  man  will  cheat  you  out  of  your  home.  I 
have  taken  no  pay  from  the  United  States.  I  have  never  sold  our 
land."  In  this  treaty  Lawyer  acted  without  authority  from  our 
band.  He  had  no  right  to  sell  the  Wallowa  (winding  water) 
country.  That  had  always  Ijelonged  to  my  father's  own  people, 
and  the  other  bands  had  never  disputed  our  right  to  it.  Xo  other 
Indians  ever  claimed  \\  allowa. 

In  order  to  have  all  people  understand  how  much  land  we 
owned,  my  father  planted  poles  around  it  and  said : 

"Inside  is  the  home  of  my  people — the  white  man  may  take 
the  land  outside.  Inside  this  boundary  all  our  people  were  born. 
It  circles  around  the  graves  of  our  fathers,  and  we  will  never  give 
up  these  graves  to  any  man." 

The  United  States  claimed  they  had  bought  all  the  Nez  Perces 
country  outside  the  Lapwai  Reservation  from  Lawyer  and  other 
chiefs,  but  we  continued  to  live  on  this  land  in  peace  until  eight 
years  ago,  when  white  men  began  to  come  inside  the  bounds  my 
father  had  set.  W'e  warned  them  against  this  great  wrong,  but 
they  would  not  leave  our  land,  and  some  bad  blood  was  raised. 
The  white  man  represented  that  we  were  going  upon  the  war- 
path.   They  reported  many  things  that  were  ialse. 

The  United  States  Government  again  asked  for  a  treaty  coun- 
cil. My  father  had  become  blind  and  feeble.  He  could  no  longer 
speak  for  his  people.  It  was  then  I  took  my  father's  place  as  chief. 
In  this  council  I  made  my  first  speech  to  white  men.  I  said  to  the 
agent  who  held  the  council : 

"I  did  not  want  to  come  to  this  council,  but  1  came  hoping  that 
we  could  save  blood.  The  white  man  has  no  right  to  come  here 
and  take  our  country.  We  have  never  accepted  presents  from  the 
Government.  Neither  Lawyer  nor  any  other  chief  had  authority 
to  sell  this  land'.  It  has  always  belonged  to  my  people.  It  came 
unclouded  to  them  from  our  fathers,  and  we  will  defend  this  land 
as  long  as  a  drop  of  Indian  blood  warms  the  hearts  of  our  men." 


The  agent  said  he  had  orders,  from  the  Great  White  Chief  at 
Washington,  for  us  to  go  upon  the  Lapwai  Reservation,  and  that 
if  we  obeyed  he  would  help  us  in  many  ways.  "You  must  move 
to  the  agency,"  he  said.  I  answered  him:  "I  will  not.  I  do  not 
need  your  help ;  we  have  plenty,  and  we  are  contented  and  happy 
if  the  white  man  will  let  us  alone.  The  reservation  is  too  small 
for  so  many  people  with  all  their  stock.  You  can  keep  your  pres- 
ents ;  we  can  go  to  your  towns  and  pay  for  all  we  need ;  we  have 
plenty  of  horses  and  cattle  to  sell,  and  we  won't  have  any  help  from 
you ;  we  are  free  now ;  we  can  go  where  we  please.  Our  fathers 
were  born  here.  Here  they  lived,  here  they  died,  here  are  their 
graves.  We  will  never  leave  them."  The  agent  went  away,  and 
we  had  peace  for  awhile. 

Soon  after  this  my  father  sent  for  me.  I  saw  he  was  dying.  I 
took  his  hand  in  mine.  He  said :  "My  son,  my  body  is  returning 
to  my  mother  earth,  and  my  spirit  is  going  very  soon  to  see  the 
Great  Spirit  Chief.  When  I  am  gone,  think  of  your  country. 
You  are  the  chief  of  these  people.  They  look  to  you  to  guide 
them.  Always  remember  that  your  father  never  sold  his  country. 
You  must  stop  your  ears  whenever  you  are  asked  to  sign  a  treaty 
selling  your  home.  A  few  years  more,  and  white  men  will  be  all 
around  you.  They  have  their  eyes  on  this  land.  My  son,  never 
forget  my  dying  words.  This  country  holds  your  father's  body. 
Never  sell  the  bones  of  your  father  and  your  mother."  I  pressed 
my  father's  hand  and  told  him  that  I  would  protect  his  grave  with 
my  life.     ]\Iy  father  smiled  and  passed  away  to  the  spirit-land. 

I  buried  him  in  that  beautiful  valley  of  winding  waters.  I  love 
that  land  more  than  all  the  rest  of  the  world.  A  man  who  would 
not  love  his  father's  grave  is  worse  than  a  wild  animal. 

For  a  short  time  we  lived  quietly.  But  this  could  not  last. 
White  men  had  found  gold  in  the  mountains  around  the  land  of 
the  winding  water.  They  stole  a  great  many  horses  from  us,  and 
we  could  not  get  them  back  because  we  were  Indians.  The  white 
men  told  lies  for  each  other.  They  drove  off  a  great  many  of  our 
cattle.  Some  white  men  branded  our  young  cattle  so  they  could 
claim  them.  We  had  no  friend  who  would  plead  our  cause  be- 
fore the  law  councils.  It  seemed  to  me  that  some  of  the  white 
men  in  Wallowa  were  doing  these  things  on  purpose  to  get  up  a 
war.     They  knew  that  we  were  nt)t  strong  enough  to  fight  them. 


I  labored  hard  to  avoid  trouble  and  Ijlood-sbcd.  W'c  gave  up  some 
of  our  country  to  the  white  men,  thinking  that  then  we  could  have 
peace.  We  were  mistaken.  The  white  man  would  not  let  us  alone. 
We  could  have  avenged  our  wrongs  many  times,  but  we  did  not. 
Whenever  the  Government  has  asked  us  to  help  them  against 
other  Indians,  we  have  never  refused.  \\'hen  the  white  men  were 
few  and  we  were  strong  we  could  have  killed  them  off,  but  the 
Nez  Perces  wished  to  live  at  peace. 

If  we  have  not  done  so,  we  have  not  been  to  blame.  I  believe 
that  the  old  treaty  has  never  been  correctly  reported.  If  we  ever 
owned  the  land  we  own  it  still,  for  we  never  sold  it.  In  the  treaty 
councils  the  commissioners  have  claimed  that  our  country  had  been 
sold  to  the  Government.  Suppose  a  white  man  should  come  to  me 
and  say,  "Joseph,  I  like  your  horses,  and  I  want  to  buy  them."  I 
say  to  him,  "No,  my  horses  suit  me,  I  will  not  sell  them."  Then 
he  goes  to  my  neighbor,  and  says  to  him :  "Joseph  has  some  good 
horses.  I  want  to  buy  them,  but  he  refuses  to  sell."  My  neighbor 
answers,  "Pay  me  the  money,  and  I  will  sell  you  Joseph's  horses." 
The  white  man  returns  to  me  and  says,  "Joseph,  I  have  bought 
your  horses,  and  you  must  let  me  have  them."  If  we  sold  our 
lands  to  the  Government,  this  is  the  way  they  were  bought. 

On  account  of  the  treaty  made  by  the  other  bands  of  Nez 
Perces,  the  white  men  claimed  my  lands.  We  were  troubled  great- 
ly by  white  men  crowding  over  the  line.  Some  of  these  were  good 
men,  and  we  lived  on  peaceful  terms  with  them,  but  they  were 
not  all  good.  , 

Nearly  every  year  the  agent  came  over  from  Lapwai  and  order- 
ed us  on  to  the  reservation.  We  always  replied  that  we  were  sat- 
isfied to  live  in  Wallowa.  We  were  careful  to  refuse  the  presents 
or  annuities  which  he  offered. 

Through  all  the  years  since  the  white  man  came  to  Wallowa 
we  have  been  threatened  and  taunted  by  them  and  the  treaty  Nez 
Perces.  They  have  given  us  no  rest.  We  have  had  a  few  good 
friends  among  white  men,  and  they  have  always  advised  my  people 
to  bear  these  taunts  without  fighting.  Oiu"  young  men  were  quick- 
tempered, and  I  have  had  great  trouble  in  keeping  them  from  do- 
ing rash  things.  I  have  carried  a  heavy  load  on  my  back  ever 
since  I  was  a  boy.  I  learned  then  that  wc  were  but  few,  while  the 
white  men  were  many,  and  that  we  could  not  hold  our  own  with 


them.  We  were  like  deer.  They  were  like  grizzly  bears.  We 
had  a  small  country.  Their  country  was  large.  We  were  content- 
ed to  let  things  remain  as  the  Great  Spirit  Chief  made  them.  They 
were  not;  and  would  change  the  rivers  and  mountains  if  they 
did  not  suit  them. 

Year  after  year  we  have  been  threatened,  but  no  war  was 
made  upon  my  people  until  General  Howard  came  to  our  country 
two  years  ago  and  told  us  that  he  was  the  white  war-chief  of  all 
that  country.  He  said :  "I  have  a  great  many  soldiers  at  my  back. 
I  am  going  to  bring  them  up  here,  and  then  I  will  talk  to  you 
again.  I  will  not  let  white  men  laugh  at  me  the  next  time  I  come. 
The  country  belongs  to  the  Government,  and  I  intend  to  make 
you  go  upon  the  reservation." 

I  remonstrated  with  him  against  bringing  more  soldiers  to  the 
Nez  Perces  country.  He  had  one  house  full  of  troops  all  the  time 
at  Fort  Lapwai. 

The  next  spring  the  agent  at  Umatilla  Agency  sent  an  Indian 
runner  to  tell  me  to  meet  General  Howard  at  Walla  Walla.  I 
could  not  go  myself,  but  I  sent  my  brother  and  five  other  head  men 
to  meet  him,  and  they  had  a  long  talk. 

General  Howard  said :  "You  have  talked  straight,  and  it  is  all 
right.  You  can  stay  at  Wallowa."  He  insisted  that  my  brother 
and  his  company  should  go  with  him  to  Fort  Lapwai.  When  the 
party  arrived  there  General  Howard  sent  out  runners  and  called 
all  the  Indians  to  a  grand  council.  I  was  in  that  council.  I  said 
to  General  Howard,  "We  are  ready  to  listen."  He  answered  that 
he  would  not  talk  then,  but  would  hold  a  council  next  day,  when 
he  would  talk  plainly.  I  said  to  General  Howard :  "I  am  ready 
to  talk  today.  I  have  been  in  a  great  many  councils,  but  I  am  no 
wiser.  We  are  all  sprung  from  a  woman,  although  we  are  unlike 
in  many  things.  We  can  not  be  made  over  again.  You  are  as  you 
were  made,  and  as  you  were  made  you  can  remain.  We  are  just 
as  we  were  made  by  the  Great  Spirit,  and  you  can  not  change  us ; 
then  why  should  children  of  one  mother  and  one  father  quarrel  ? — 
why  should  one  try  to  cheat  the  other  ?  I  do  not  believe  that  the 
Great  Spirit  Chief  gave  one  kind  of  men  the  right  to  tell  another 
kind  of  men  what  they  must  do." 

General  Howard  replied :  "You  deny  my  authority,  do  you  ? 
You  want  to  dictate  to  me,  do  you?" 


Then  one  of  my  chiefs — Too-hul-hul-sote — rose  in  the  coun- 
cil and  said  to  General  Howard :  "The  Great  Spirit  Chief  made 
the  world  as  it  is.  and  as  He  wanted  it,  and  He  made  a  part  of  it 
for  us  to  live  upon.  I  do  not  see  where  you  get  authority  to  say 
that  we  shall  not  live  where  He  placed  us." 

General  Howard  lost  his  temper  and  said:  "Shut  up!  I  don't 
want  to  hear  any  more  of  such  talk.  The  law  says  you  shall  go 
upon  the  reservation  to  live,  and  I  want  you  to  do  so,  but  you  per- 
sist in  disobeying  the  law"'  (meaning  the  treaty).  "If  you  do 
not  move,  I  will  take  the  matter  into  my  own  hand,  and  make 
you  sufifer  for  your  disobedience." 

Too-hul-hul-sote  answered:  "Who  are  you,  that  you  ask  us 
to  talk,  and  then  tell  me  I  shan't  talk  ?  Are  you  the  Great  Spirit  ? 
Did  you  make  the  world  ?  Did  you  make  the  sun  ?  Did  you  make 
the  rivers  to  run  for  us  to  drink?  Did  you  make  the  grass  to 
grow  ?  Did  you  make  all  these  things  that  you  talk  to  us  as  though 
we  were  boys?  If  vou  did,  then  vou  have  the  right  to  talk  as  you 

General  Howard  replied :  "You  are  an  impudent  fellow,  and 
I  will  put  you  in  the  guard-house,"  and  then  ordered  a  soldier  to 
arrest  him. 

Too-hul-hul-sote  made  no  resistance.  He  asked  General 
Howard:  "Is  this  your  order?  I  don't  care.  I  have  expressed 
my  heart  to  you.  I  have  nothing  to  take  back.  I  have  spoken  for 
my  country.  You  can  arrest  me,  but  you  can  not  change  me  or 
make  me  take  back  what  I  have  said." 

The  soldiers  came  forward  and  seized  my  friend  jmd  took  him 
to  the  guard-h(nise.  My  men  whispered  among  themselves  wheth- 
er they  would  let  this  thing  be  done.  I  counseled  them  to  submit. 
I  knew  if  we  resisted  that  all  the  white  men  present,  including 
General  Howard,  would  be  killed  in  a  moment,  and  we  would  be 
blamed.  If  I  had  said  nothing.  General  Howard  would  never  have 
given  an  unjust  order  against  my  men.  I  saw  the  danger  and 
while  they  dragged  Too-hul-hul-sote  to  prison.  I  arose  and  said : 
"I  am  going  to  talk  now.  I  don't  care  whether  you  arrest  me  or 
not."  I  turned  to  my  people  and  said :  "The  arrest  of  Too-hul- 
hul-sote  was  wrong,  but  we  will  not  resent  the  insult.  We  were 
invited  to  this  council  to  express  our  hearts,  and  we  have  done  so." 
Too-hul-hul-sote  was  jM-isoner  for  five  days  before  he  was  re- 


The  council  broke  up  that  day.  On  the  next  morning  General 
Howard  came  to  my  lodge,  and  invited  me  to  go  with  him  and 
White  Bird  and  Looking  Glass,  to  look  for  land  for  my  people. 
As  we  rode  along  we  came  to  some  good  land  that  was  already 
occupied  by  Indians  and  white  people.  General  Howard,  point- 
ing to  this  land,  said :  "If  you  will  come  on  to  the  reservation,  I 
will  give  you  these  lands  and  move  these  people  ofif." 

I  replied :  "No.  It  would  be  wrong  to  disturb  these  people. 
I  have  no  right  to  take  their  home.  I  have  never  taken  what  did 
not  belong  to  me.     I  will  not  now." 

We  rode  all  day  upon  the  reservation,  and  found  no  good  land 
unoccupied.  I  have  been  informed  by  men  who  do  not  lie  that 
General  Howard  sent  a  letter  that  night  telling  the  soldiers  at 
Walla  Walla  to  go  to  Wallowa  Valley,  and  drive  us  out  upon  our 
return  home. 

In  the  council  next  day  General  Howard  informed  us  in  a 
haughty  spirit  that  he  would  give  my  people  thirty  days  to  go  back 
home,  collect  all  their  stock,  and  move  on  to  the  reservation,  say- 
ing, "If  you  are  not  here  in  that  time,  I  shall  consider  that  you 
want  to  fight,  and  will  send  my  soldiers  to  drive  you  on." 

I  said :  "W^ar  can  be  avoided  and  it  ought  to  be  avoided.  I 
want  no  war.  My  people  have  always  been  the  friends  of  the 
white  man.  Why  are  you  in  such  a  hurry  ?  I  can  not  get  ready  to 
move  in  thirty  days.  Our  stock  is  scattered,  and  Snake  River  is 
very  high.  Let  us  wait  until  fall,  then  the  river  will  be  low.  We 
want  time  to  hunt  our  stock  and  gather  our  supplies  for  the 

General  Howard  replied,  "If  you  let  the  time  run  over  one 
day,  the  soldiers  will  be  there  to  drive  you  on  to  the  reservation, 
and  all  your  cattle  and  horses  outside  of  the  reservation  at  that 
time  will  fall  into  the  hands  of  the  white  men." 

I  knew  I  had  never  sold  my  country,  and  that  I  had  no  land 
in  Lapwai ;  but  I  did  not  want  bloodshed.  I  did  not  want  my 
people  killed.  I  did  not  want  anybody  killed.  Some  of  my  people 
had  been  murdered  by  white  men,  and  the  white  murderers  were 
never  punished  for  it.  I  told  General  Howard  about  this,  and 
again  said  I  wanted  no  war.  I  wanted  the  people  who  lived  upon 
the  lands  I  was  to  occupy  at  Lapwai  to  have  time  to  gather  their 


I  said  in  my  heart  that,  rather  than  have  war  I  would  give  up 
my  country.  I  would  rather  give  up  my  father's  grave.  I  would 
give  up  everything  rather  than  have  the  blood  of  white  men  upon 
the  hands  of  my  people. 

General  Howard  refused  to  allow  me  more  than  thirty  days  to 
move  my  people  and  their  stock.  I  am  sure  that  he  began  to  pre- 
pare for  war  at  once. 

When  I  returned  to  Wallowa  I  found  my  people  very  much 
excited  upon  discovering  that  the  soldiers  were  already  in  the 
Wallowa  Valley.  We  held  a  council,  and  decided  to  move  im- 
mediately to  avoid  bloodshed. 

Too-hul-hul-sote,  who  felt  outraged  by  his  imprisonment, 
talked  for  war,  and  made  many  of  my  young  men  willing  to  fight 
rather  than  be  driven  like  dogs  from  the  land  where  they  were 
born.  He  declared  that  blood  alone  would  wash  out  the  disgrace 
General  Howard  had  put  upon  him.  It  required  a  strong  heart 
to  stand  up  against  such  talk,  but  I  urged  my  people  to  be  quiet, 
and  not  to  begin  a  war. 

We  gathered  all  the  stock  we  could  find,  and  made  an  attempt 
to  move.  We  left  many  of  our  horses  and  cattle  in  Wallowa,  and 
we  lost  several  hundred  in  crossing  the  river.  All  my  people  suc- 
ceeded in  getting  across  in  safety.  Many  of  the  Nez  Perces  came 
together  in  Rocky  Canon  to  hold  a  grand  council.  I  went  with  all 
my  people.  This  council  lasted  ten  days.  There  was  a  great  deal 
of  war  talk  and  a  great  deal  of  excitement.  There  was  one  voung 
brave  present  whose  father  had  1)een  killed  bv  a' White  man  five 
years  before.  This  man's  blood  was  l)ad  against  white  men  and 
he  left  the  council  calling  for  revenge. 

Again  I  counseled  peace,  and  I  thought  the  danger  was  past. 
We  had  not  complied  with  General  Howard's  order  because  we 
could  not,  but  we  intended  to  do  so  as  soon  as  possible.  I  was 
leaving  the  council  to  kill  beef  for  my  family  when  news  came 
that  the  young  man  whose  father  had  been  killed  had  gone  out 
with  several  hot-blooded  young  l)raves  and  killed  four  white  men. 
He  rode  up  to  the  council  and  shouted  :  "Why  do  you  sit  here 
like  women?  The  war  has  begun  already."  T  was  deeply  grieved. 
All  the  lodges  were  moved  except  my  brother's  and  my  own.  I 
saw  clearly  that  the  war  was  upon  us  when   I  learned  that  my 


young  men  had  been  secretl}-  buying  ammunition.  I  heard  then 
that  Too-hul-hul-sote,  who  had  been  imprisoned  by  General 
Howard,  had  succeeded  in  organizing  a  war  party.  I  knew  that 
their  acts  would  involve  all  my  people.  I  saw  that  the  war  could 
not  then  be  prevented.  The  time  had  passed.  I  counseled  peace 
from  the  beginning.  I  knew  that  we  were  too  weak  to  fight  the 
United  States.  We  had  many  grievances,  but  I  knew  that  war 
would  bring  more.  We  had  good  white  friends,  who  advised  us 
against  taking  the  war-path.  My  friend  and  brother,  Mr.  Chap- 
man, who  has  been  with  us  since  the  surrender,  told  us  just  how 
the  war  would  end.  Mr.  Chapman  took  sides  against  us  and 
helped  General  Howard.  I  do  not  blame  him  for  doing  so.  He 
tried  hard  to  prevent  bloodshed.  We  hoped  the  white  settlers 
would  not  join  the  soldiers.  Before  the  war  commenced  we  had 
discussed  this  matter  all  over,  and  many  of  my  people  were  in 
favor  of  warning  them  that  if  they  took  no  part  against  us  they 
should  not  be  molested  in  the  event  of  war  being  begun  by  General 
Howard.     This  plan  was  voted  down  in  the  war-council. 

There  were  bad  men  among  my  people  who  had  quarreled  with 
white  men,  and  they  talked  of  their  wrongs  until  they  roused  all 
the  bad  hearts  in  the  council.  Still  I  could  not  believe  that  they 
would  begin  the  war.  I  know  that  my  young  men  did  a  great 
wrong,  but  I  ask.  Who  was  first  to  blame  ?  They  had  been  insulted 
a  thousand  times ;  their  fathers  and  brothers  had  been  killed ;  their 
mothers  and  wives  had  been  disgraced;  they  had  been  driven  to 
madness  by  the  whiskey  sold  to  them  by  the  white  men ;  they  had 
been  told  by  General  Howard  that  all  their  horses  and  cattle  which 
they  had  been  unable  to  drive  out  of  Wallowa  were  to  fall  into 
the  hands  of  white  men ;  and,  added  to  all  this,  they  were  home- 
less and  desperate. 

I  would  have  given  my  own  life  if  I  could  have  undone  the 
killing  of  white  men  by  my  people.  I  blame  my  young  men  and 
I  blame  the  white  men.  I  blame  General  Howard  for  not  giving 
my  people  time  to  get  their  stock  away  from  Wallowa.  I  do  not 
acknowledge  that  he  had  the  right  to  order  me  to  leave  Wallowa  at 
any  time.  I  deny  that  either  my  father  or  myself  ever  sold  that 
land.  It  is  still  our  land.  It  may  never  again  be  our  home,  but 
my  father  sleeps  there,  and  I  love  it  as  I  love  my  mother.  I  left 
there,  hoping  to  avoid  bloodshed. 


If  General  Howard  had  given  me  plenty  of  time  to  gather  up 
my  stock,  and  treated  Too-hul-hul-sote  as  a  man  should  be 
treated,  there  would  have  been  no  war.  IMy  friends  among  white 
men  have  blamed  me  for  the  war.  I  am  not  to  blame.  When  my 
young  men  began  the  killing,  my  heart  was  hurt.  Although  I  did 
not  justify  them,  I  remembered  all  the  insults  I  had  endured,  and 
my  blood  was  on  fire.  Still  I  would  have  taken  my  people  to  the 
buffalo  country  without  fighting,  if  possible. 

I  could  see  no  other  way  to  avoid  a  war.  We  moved  over  to 
White  Bird  Creek,  sixteen  miles  away,  and  there  encamped,  intend- 
ing to  collect  our  stock  before  leaving;  but  the  soldiers  attacked  us 
and  the  first  battle  was  fought.  We  numbered  in  that  battle  sixty 
men,  and  the  soldiers  a  hundred.  The  fight  lasted  but  a  few  min- 
utes, when  the  soldiers  retreated  before  us  for  twelve  miles.  They 
lost  thirty-three  killed,  and  had  seven  wounded.  When  an  Indian 
fights,  he  only  shoots  to  kill ;  but  soldiers  shoot  at  random.  None 
of  the  soldiers  were  scalped.  W^e  do  not  believe  in  scalping,  nor 
in  killing  wounded  men.  Soldiers  do  not  kill  many  Indians  unless 
they  are  wounded  and  left  upon  the  battlefield.  Then  they  kill 

Seven  days  after  the  first  battle  General  Howard  arrived  in 
the  Nez  Perces  country,  bringing  seven  hundred  more  soldiers. 
It  was  now  war  in  earnest.  W^e  crossed  over  Salmon  River,  hop- 
ing General  Howard  would  follow.  W^e  were  not  disappointed. 
He  did  follow  us,  and  we  got  between  him  and  his  supplies,  and 
cut  him  oE  for  three  days.  He  sent  out  two  companies  to  open 
the  wav.  We  attacked  them,  killing  one  officer,  two  guides,  and 
ten  men. 

We  withdrew,  hoping  the  soldiers  would  follow,  but  they  had 
got  fighting  enough  for  that  day.  They  intrenched  themselves, 
and  next  day  we  attacked  them  again.  The  battle  lasted  all  day, 
and  was  renewed  next  morning.  We  killed  four  and  wounded 
seven  or  eight. 

About  this  time  General  Howard  found  out  that  we  were  in 
his  rear.  Five  days  later  he  attacked  us  with  three  hundred  and 
fifty  soldiers  and  settlers.  We  had  two  hundred  and  fifty  war- 
riors. The  fight  lasted  twenty-seven  hours.  We  lost  four  killed 
and  several  wounded.  General  Howard's  loss  was  twenty-nine 
men  killed  and  sixty  wounded. 


The  following  day  the  soldiers  charged  upon  us,  and  we  re- 
treated with  our  families  and  stock  a  few  miles,  leaving  eighty 
lodges  to  fall  into  General  Howard's  hands. 

Finding  that  we  were  outnumbered,  we  retreated  to  Bitter 
Root  Valley.  Here  another  body  of  soldiers  came  upon  us  and 
demanded  our  surrender.  We  refused.  They  said,  "You  can  not 
get  by  us."  We  answered,  "We  are  going  by  you  without  fighting 
if  you  will  let  us,  but  we  are  going  by  you  anyhow."  We  then 
made  a  treaty  with  these  soldiers.  We  agreed  not  to  molest  any 
one  and  they  agreed  that  we  might  pass  through  the  Bitter  Root 
country  in  peace.  We  bought  provisions  and  traded  stock  with 
white  men  there. 

We  understood  that  there  was  to  be  no  war.  We  intended 
to  go  peaceably  to  the  buffalo  country,  and  leave  the  question  of 
returning  to  our  country  to  be  settled  afterward. 

With  this  understanding  we  traveled  on  for  four  days,  and, 
thinking  that  the  trouble  was  all  over,  we  stopped  and  prepared 
tent-poles  to  take  with  us.  We  started  again,  and  at  the  end  of 
two  days  we  saw  three  white  men  passing  our  camp.  Thinking 
that  peace  had  been  made,  we  did  not  molest  them.  We  could 
have  killed,  or  taken  them  prisoners,  but  we  did  not  suspect  them 
of  being  spies,  which  they  were. 

That  night  the  soldiers  surrounded  our  camp.  About  day- 
break one  of  my  men  went  out  to  look  after  his  horses.  The  sol- 
diers saw  him  and  shot  him  down  like  a  coyote.  I  have  since  learn- 
ed that  these  soldiers  were  not  those  we  had  left  behind.  They 
had  come  upon  us  from  another  direction.  The  new  white  war- 
chief's  name  was  Gibbon.  He  charged  upon  us  while  some  of 
my  people  were  still  asleep.  We  had  a  hard  fight.  Some  of  my 
men  crept  around  and  attacked  the  soldiers  from  the  rear.  In 
this  battle  we  lost  nearly  all  our  lodges,  but  we  finally  drove  Gen- 
eral Gibbon  back. 

Finding  that  he  was  not  able  to  capture  us,  he  sent  to  his  camp 
a  few  miles  away  for  his  big  guns  (cannons),  but  my  men  had  cap- 
tured them  and  all  the  ammunition.  We  damaged  the  big  guns 
all  we  could,  and  carried  away  the  powder  and  lead.  In  the  fight 
with  General  Gibbon  we  lost  fifty  women  and  children  and  thirty 
fighting  men.     We  remained  long  enough  to  bury  our  dead.    The 


Xez  Perces  never  make  war  on  women  and  children ;  we  could 
have  killed  a  great  many  women  and  children  while  the  war  lasted, 
but  we  would  feel  ashamed  to  do  so  cowardly  an  act. 

We  never  scalp  our  enemies,  but  when  General  Howard  came 
up  and  joined  General  Gibbon,  their  Indian  scouts  dug  up  our 
dead  and  scalped  them.  I  have  been  told  that  General  Howard 
did  not  order  this  great  shame  to  be  done. 

We  retreated  as  rapidly  as  we  could  toward  the  buffalo  coun- 
try. After  six  days  General  Howard  came  close  to  us,  and  we 
went  out  and  attacked  him,  and  captured  nearly  all  his  horses 
and  mules  (about  two  hundred  and  fifty  head).  We  then 
marched  on  to  the  Yellowstone  Basm. 

On  the  way  we  captured  one  white  man  and  two  white  women. 
We  released  them  at  the  end  of  three  days.  They  were  treated 
kindly.  The  women  were  not  insulted.  Can  the  white  soldiers 
tell  me  of  one  time  when  Indian  women  were  taken  prisoners, 
and  held  three  days  and  then  released  without  being  insulted? 
Were  the  Nez  Perces  women  who  fell  into  the  hands  of  General 
Howard's  soldiers  treated  with  as  much  respect?  I  deny  that  a 
Nez  Perce  was  ever  guilty  of  such  a  crime. 

A  few  days  later  we  captured  two  more  white  men.  One  of 
them  stole  a  horse  and  escaped.  We  gave  the  other  a  poor  horse 
and  told  him  that  he  was  free. 

Nine  days"  march  brought  us  to  the  mouth  of  Clarke's  Fork 
of  the  Yellowstone.  We  did  not  know  what  had  become  of 
General  Howard,  but  we  supposed  that  he  had  sent  for  more 
horses  and  mules.  He  did  not  come  up,  but  another  new  war- 
chief  (General  Sturgis)  attacked  us.  We  held  him  in  check 
while  we  moved  all  our  women  and  children  and  stock  out  of 
danger,  leaving  a  few  men  to  cover  our  retreat. 

Several  days  passed,  and  we  heard  nothing  of  Generals  How- 
ard, or  Gibbon,  or  Sturgis.  We  had  repulsed  each  in  turn,  and 
began  to  feel  secure,  when  another  army,  under  General  Miles, 
struck  us.  This  was  the  fourth  army,  each  of  which  outnum- 
bered our  fighting  force,  that  wo  had  encountered  within  sixty 

We  had  no  knowledge  of  General  Miles'  army  until  a  short 
time  before  he  made  a  charge  u)iiin  us,  cutting  our  camp  in  two. 


and  capturing  nearly  all  r)f  our  horses.  About  seventy  men, 
myself  among  them,  were  cut  off.  My  little  daughter,  twelve 
years  of  age,  was  with  me.  I  gave  her  a  rope,  and  told  her  to 
catch  a  horse  and  join  the  others  who  were  cut  off  from  the 
camp.  I  have  not  seen  her  since,  but  I  have  learned  that  she 
is  alive  and  well. 

I  thought  of  my  wife  and  children,  who  were  now  surrounded 
by  soldiers,  and  I  resolved  to  go  to  them  or  die.  With  a  prayer 
in  my  mouth  to  the  Great  Spirit  Chief  who  rules  above,  I  dashed 
unarmed  through  the  line  of  soldiers.  It  seemed  to  me  that 
there  were  guns  on  every  side,  before  and  behind  me.  My 
clothes  were  cut  to  pieces  and  my  horse  was  wounded,  but  I 
was  not  hurt.  As  I  reached  the  door  of  my  lodge,  my  wife  handed 
me  my  rifle,  saying:     "Here's  your  gun.     Fight!" 

The  soldiers  kept  up  a  continuous  fire.  Six  of  my  men  were 
killed  in  one  spot  near  me.  Ten  or  twelve  soldiers  charged  into 
our  camp  and  got  possession  of  two  lodges,  killing  three  Nez 
Perces  and  losing  three  of  their  men,  who  fell  inside  our  lines. 
I  called  my  men  to  drive  them  back.  We  fought  at  close  range, 
not  more  than  twenty  steps  apart,  and  drove  the  soldiers  back 
upon  their  main  line,  leaving  their  dead  in  our  hands.  We  se- 
cured their  arms  and  ammunition.  We  lost,  the  first  day  and 
night,  eighteen  men  and  three  women.  General  Miles  lost 
twenty-six  killed  and  forty  wounded.  The  following  day  General 
Miles  sent  a  messenger  into  my  camp  under  protection  of  a  white 
flag.     I  sent  my  friend  Yellow  Bull  to  meet  him. 

Yellow  Bull  understood  the  messenger  to  say  that  General 
Miles  wished  me  to  consider  the  situation ;  that  he  did  not  want 
to  kill  my  people  unnecessarily.  Yellow  Bull  understood  this 
to  be  a  demand  for  me  to  surrender  and  save  blood.  Upon  re- 
porting this  message  to  me.  Yellow  Bull  said  he  wondered 
whether  General  Miles  was  in  earnest.  I  sent  him  back  with  my 
answer,  that  I  had  not  made  up  my  mind,  but  would  think  about 
itj  and  send  word  soon.  A  little  later  he  sent  some  Cheyenne 
scouts  with  another  message.  I  went  out  to  meet  them.  They 
said  they  believed  that  General  Miles  was  sincere  and  really 
wanted  peace.     I  walked  on  to  General  Miles'  tent.     He  met  me 


and  we  shook  hands.  He  said,  "Come,  let  us  sit  down  by  the 
fire  and  talk  this  matter  over."  I  remained  with  him  all  night ; 
next  morning.  Yellow  Bull  came  over  to  see  if  I  was  alive,  and 
why  I  did  not  return. 

General  Miles  would  not  let  me  leave  the  tent  to  see  my  friend 

Yellow  Bull  said  to  me :  "They  have  got  you  in  their  power, 
and  I  am  afraid  they  will  never  let  you  go  again.  I  have  an  officer 
in  our  camp,  and  I  will  hold  him  until  they  let  you  go  free." 

I  said :  "I  do  not  know  what  they  mean  to  do  with  me,  but 
if  they  kill  me  you  must  not  kill  the  officer.  It  will  do  no  good 
to  avenge  my  death  by  killing  him." 

Yellow  Bull  returned  to  my  camp.  I  did  not  make  any  agree- 
ment that  day  with  General  Miles.  The  battle  was  renewed  while 
I  was  with  him.  I  was  very  anxious  about  my  people.  I  knew 
that  we  were  near  Sitting  Bull's  camp  in  King  George's  land,  and 
I  thought  maybe  the  Nez  Perces  who  had  escaped  would  return 
with  assistance.  No  great  damage  was  done  to  either  party  dur- 
ing the  night. 

On  the  following  morning  I  returned  to  my  camp  by  agree- 
ment, meeting  the  officer  who  had  been  held  a  prisoner  in  my 
camp  at  the  flag  of  truce.  Aly  people  were  divided  about  sur- 
rendering. We  could  have  escaped  from  Bear  Paw  Mountain 
if  we  had  left  our  wounded,  old  women,  and  children  behind. 
We  were  unwilling  to  do  this.  Wc  had  never  heard  of  a  wounded 
Indian  recovering  while  in  the  hands  of  white  m^n. 

On  the  evening  of  the  fourth  day.  General  Howard  came  in 
with  a  small  escort,  together  with  my  friend  Chapman.  We 
could  talk  now  understandingly.  General  Miles  said  to  me  in 
plain  words,  "If  you  will  come  out  and  give  up  your  arms,  I 
will  spare  your  lives  and  send  you  back  to  the  reservation."  I 
do  not  know  what  passed  between  General  Miles  and  General 

I  could  not  bear  to  see  my  wounded  men  and  women  suffer 
any  longer;  we  had  lost  enough  already.  General  Miles  had 
promised  that  wc  might  return  to  our  couiUry  with  what  stock 
we  had  left.  1  thought  wc  could  start  again.  I  believed  General 
Miles,  or  I  never  would  have  surrendered.  I  have  heard  that 
he  has  been  censured    for   making   the   jjromise  to   return   us   to 


Lapwai.  He  could  not  have  made  any  other  terms  with  me  at 
that  time.  I  would  have  held  him  in  check  until  my  friends  c-ame 
to  my  assistance,  and  then  neither  of  the  generals  nor  their  sol- 
diers would  have  ever  left  Bear  Paw  Mountain  alive. 

On  the  fifth  day  I  went  to  General  Miles  and  gave  up  my  gun, 
and  said,  "From  where  the  sun  now  stands  I  will  fight  no  more." 
My  people  needed  rest — we  wanted  peace. 

I  was  told  we  could  go  with  General  Miles  to  Tongue  River 
and  stay  there  until  spring,  when  we  would  be  sent  back  to  our 
country.  Finally  it  was  decided  that  we  were  to  be  taken  to 
Tongue  River.  We  had  nothing  to  say  about  it.  After  our 
arrival  at  Tongue  River,  General  Miles  received  orders  to  take 
us  to  Bismarck.  The  reason  given  was  that  subsistence  would 
be  cheaper  there. 

General  Miles  was  opposed  to  this  order.  He  said :  "You 
must  not  blame  me.  I  have  endeavored  to  keep  my  word,  but 
the  chief  who  is  over  me  has  given  the  order,  and  I  must  obey 
it  or  resign.  That  would  do  you  no  good.  Some  other  officer 
would  carry  out  the  order." 

I  believe  General  Miles  would  have  kept  his  word  if  he  could 
have  done  so.  I  do  not  blame  him  for  what  we  have  suffered 
since  the  surrender.  I  do  not  know  who  is  to  blame.  We  gave 
up  all  our  horses — over  eleven  hundred — and  all  our  saddles — 
over  one  hundred — and  we  have  not  heard  from  them  since. 
Somebody  has  got  our  horses. 

General  Miles  turned  my  people  over  to  another  soldier,  and 
we  were  taken  to  Bismarck.  Captain  Johnson,  who  now  had 
charge  of  us,  received  an  order  to  take  us  to  Fort  Leavenworth. 
At  Leavenworth  we  were  placed  in  on  a  low  river  bottom,  with 
no  water  except  river  water  to  drink  and  cook  with.  We  had 
always  lived  in  a  healthy  country,  where  the  mountains  were 
high  and  the  water  was  cold  and  clear.  Many  of  our  people 
sickened  and  died,  and  we  buried  them  in  this  strange  land.*  I 
can  not  tell  how  much  my  heart  suffered  for  my  people  while  at 
Leavenworth.  The  Great  Spirit  Chief  who  rules  above  seemed 
to  be  looking  some  other  way,  and  did  not  set,'  what  was  being 
done  to  my  people. 

"/    can    corroborate    this.       I    sazi-    them     there    often. — C.     T.     B. 


During  the  hot  days  (July,  1878)  we  received  notice  that  we 
were  to  be  moved  farther  away  from  our  own  country.  We  were 
not  asked  if  we  were  willing  to  go.  We  were  ordered  to  get 
into  the  railroad  cars.  Three  of  my  people  died  on  the  way  to 
Baxter  Springs.  It  was  worse  to  die  there  than  to  die  fighting 
in  the  mountains. 

We  were  moved  from  Baxter  Springs  (Kansas)  to  the  Indian 
Territory  and  set  down  without  our  lodges.  We  had  but  little 
medicine  and  we  were  nearly  all  sick.  Seventy  of  my  people  have 
died  since  we  moved  there. 

We  have  had  a  great  many  visitors  who  have  talked  many 
ways.  Some  of  the  chiefs  (General  Fish  and  Colonel  Stickney) 
from  Washington  came  to  see  us,  and  selected  land  for  us  to 
live  upon.  We  have  not  moved  to  that  land,  for  it  is  not  a  good 
place  to  live. 

The  Commissioner  Chief  (E.  A.  Hayt)  came  to  see  us.  I 
told  him,  as  I  told  every  one,  that  I  expected  General  Miles'  word 
would  be  carried  out.  He  said  it  "could  not  be  done ;  that 
white  men  now  lived  in  my  country  and  all  the  land  was  taken 
up;  that,  if  I  returned  to  Wallowa,  I  could  not  live  in  peace; 
that  law-papers  were  out  against  my  young  men  who  began  the 
war.  and  that  the  Government  could  not  protect  my  people." 
This  talk  fell  like  a  heavy  stone  upon  my  heart.  I  saw  that  I 
could  not  gain  anything  by  talking  to  him.  Other  law  chiefs 
(Congressional  Committee)  came  to  see  us  and  said  they  would 
help  me  to  get  a  healthy  country.  I  did  not  know  whom  to  be- 
lieve. The  white  people  have  too  many  chiefs.  They  do  not 
understand  each  other.    They  do  not  talk  alike. 

The  Commissioner  Chief  (Mr.  Hayt)  invited  me  to  go  with 
him  and  hunt  for  a  better  home  than  we  have  now.  I  like  the 
land  we  found  (west  of  the  Osage  Reservation)  better  than  any 
place  I  have  seen  in  that  country;  but  it  is  not  a  healthy  land. 
There  are  no  mountains  and  rivers.  The  water  is  warm.  It  is 
not  a  good  country  for  stock.  I  do  not  believe  my  people  can 
live  there.  I  am  afraid  they  will  all  die.  The  Indians  who 
occupy  that  country  are  dying  otT.  I  promised  Chief  Hayt  to 
go  there,  and  do  the  best  I  could  until  the  Government  got  ready 
to  make  good  General  Miles'  word.  I  was  not  satisfied,  but  I 
could  not  help  myself. 


Then  the  Inspector  Chief  (General  McNiel)  came  to  my 
camp  and  we  had  a  long  talk.  He  said  I  ought  to  have  a  home 
in  the  mountain  country  north,  and  that  he  would  write  a  letter 
to  the  Great  Chief  in  Washington.  Again  the  hope  of  seeing  the 
mountains  of  Idaho  and  Oregon  grew  up  in  my  heart. 

xA.t  last  I  was  granted  permission  to  come  to  Washington  and 
bring  my  friend  Yellow  Bull  and  our  interpreter  with  me.  I  am 
glad  we  came.  I  have  shaken  hands  with  a  great  many  friends, 
but  there  are  some  things  I  want  to  know  which  no  one  seems 
able  to  explain.  I  can  not  understand  how  the  Government  sends 
a  man  out  to  fight  us,  as  it  did  General  Miles,  and  then  breaks 
his  word.  Such  a  Government  has  something  wrong  about  it. 
I  can  not  understand  why  so  many  chiefs  are  allowed  to  talk  so 
many  different  ways,  and  promise  so  many  different  things.  I 
have  seen  the  Great  Father  Chief  (the  President)  ;  the  next 
Great  Chief  (Secretary  of  the  Interior)  ;  the  Commissioner  Chief 
(Hayt)  ;  the  Law  Chief  (General  Butler),  and  many  other  law 
chiefs  (Congressmen),  and  they  all  say  they  are  my  friends,  and 
that  I  shall  have  justice,  but  while  their  mouths  all  talk  right 
I  do  not  understand  why  nothing  is  done  for  my  people.  I  have 
heard  talk  and  talk,  but  nothing  is  done.  Good  words  do  not 
last  long  until  they  amount  to  something.  Words  do  not  pay  for 
my  dead  people.  They  do  not  pay  for  my  country,  now  over- 
run by  white  men.  They  do  not  protect  my  father's  grave.  They 
do  not  pay  for  my  horses  and  cattle.  Good  words  will  not  give  me 
back  my  children.  Good  words  will  not  make  good  the  promise 
of  your  War  Chief,  General  Miles.  Good  words  will  not  give 
my  people  good  health  and  stop  them  from  dying.  Good  words 
will  not  get  my  people  a  home  where  they  can  live  in  peace  and 
take  care  of  themselves.  I  am  tired  of  talk  that  comes  to  noth- 
ing. It  makes  my  heart  sick  when  I  remember  all  the  good  words 
and  all  the  broken  promises.  There  has  been  too  much  talking 
by  men  who  had  no  right  to  talk.  Too  many  misrepresentations 
have  been  made,  too  many  misunderstandings  have  come  up  be- 
tween the  white  men  about  the  Indians.  If  the  white  man  wants 
to  live  in  peace  with  the  Indian  he  can  live  in  peace.  There  need 
be  no  trouble.  Treat  all  men  alike.  Give  them  all  the  same  law. 
Give  them  all  an  even  chance  to  live  and  grow.     All  men  were 


made  by  the  same  Great  Spirit  Chief.  They  are  all  brothers. 
The  earth  is  the  mother  of  all  people,  an4  all  people  should  have 
equal  rights  upon  it.  You  might  as  well  expect  the  rivers  to 
run  backward  as  that  any  man  who  was  born  a  free  man  should 
be  contented  penned  up  and  denied  liberty  to  go  where  he  pleases. 
If  you  tie  a  horse  to  a  stake,  do  you  expect  he  will  grow  fat? 
If  you  pen  an  Indian  up  on  a  small  spot  of  earth,  and  compel 
him  to  stay  there,  he  will  not  be  contented  nor  will  he  grow  and 
prosper.  I  have  asked  some  of  the  great  white  chiefs  where 
they  get  their  authority  to  say  to  the  Indian  that  he  shall  stay 
in  one  place,  while  he  sees  white  men  going  where  they  please. 
They  can  not  tell  me. 

I  only  ask  of  the  Government  to  be  treated  as  all  other  men 
are  treated.  If  I  can  not  go  to  my  own  home,  let  me  have  a  home 
in  some  country  where  my  people  will  not  die  so  fast.  I  would 
like  to  go  to  Bitter  Root  Valley.  There  my  people  would  be 
healthy;  where  they  are  now  they  are  dying.  Three  have  died 
since  I  left  my  camp  to  come  to  Washington. 

When  I  think  of  our  condition  my  heart  is  heavy.  I  see  men 
of  my  race  treated  as  outlaws  and  driven  from  country  to  coun- 
try, or  shot  down  like  animals. 

I  know  that  my  race  must  change.  We  can  not  hold  our  own 
with  the  white  men  as  we  are.  We  only  ask  an  even  chance  to 
live  as  other  men  live.  We  ask  to  be  recognized  as  men.  We 
ask  that  the  same  law  shall  work  alike  on  all  men.  If  the  Indian 
breaks  the  law,  punish  him  In-  the  law.  If  the  white  man  breaks 
the  law,  punish  him  also. 

Let  me  be  a  free  man — free  to  travel,  free  to  stop,  free  to 
work,  free  to  trade,  where  I  choose,  free  to  choose  my  own  teach- 
ers, free  to  follow  the  religion  of  my  fathers,  free  to  think  and 
talk  and  act  for  myself — and  I  will  obey  every  law,  or  sul^mit  to 
the  penalty. 

Whenever  the  white  man  treats  the  Indian  as  they  treat  each 
other,  then  we  shall  have  no  more  wars.  We  shall  be  all  alike — 
brothers  of  one  father  and  one  mother,  with  one  sky  above  us 
and  one  country  around  us,  and  one  government  for  all.  Then 
the  Great  Spirit  Chief  who  rules  above  will  smile  upon  this  land, 
and  send  rain  to  wash  out  the  bloody  spots  made  by  brother^' 


hands  upon  the  face  of  the  earth.  For  this  time  the  Indian  race 
are  waiting  and  praying.  I  hope  that  no  more  groans  of  wounded 
men  and  women  will  ever  go  to  the  ear  of  the  Great  Spirit  Chief 
above,  and  that  all  people  may  be  one  people. 

In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat  has  spoken  for  his  people. 

Young  Joseph.